Live at the Washington Beach Community Festival

By no means was this an anti-Comfest fest, and in order to handle the local scene with kid gloves, Comfest was not a bust. It's hard to fault "anyone" who's trying to make this city a better place. No utopia of course, but every town has it's share of lot lizards and bad poets. Full disclosure: there's nothing better than seeing "most" of your favorite bands in a sunny park with your wife, a fishboat, and mug full of CBC pale ale close to the hip.

The Washington Beach Community Festival filled all the voids. Curated by Times New Viking, and pretty much birthed by Siltbreeze Omnicron, Tom Lax, it could've been subtitled, "Losers Whom Love Forgot." The Unholy Two, (now with even more guitar), started things off. Mr. Chris gives new meaning to the post-punk, making all the best punchlines blistering minute-and-a-half songs, forcing crowds to shield their eardrums, spitting improv-comedy from the cutting edge (what's being cut exactly? And why are you defending Officer Bobby Cutt$ Jr.?) Who really cares? This is everything you really want to hear/say in one quick knife hit from the electric stove. They should basically own CDR for the next year or so.

The second-coming of V-3? Kevin DeBroux is currently making Columbus his home, and Pink Reason, his ongoing journey, is beginning to sound like a descent, one that he will take, with all of you, kicking and screaming, moaning, and chugging puked-up vitamin water, along the way. Sporting a mohawk and the face of a young Tom Cruise, his incantation on this night went solo, playing a brief set of forgotten punk covers on an un-tuned acoustic guitar. This is the guy mother told me to stay away from (and eventually that guy, G.G., wrote me letters from prison), but I'd be damned if I didn't strain to hear the gospel that comes from his mouth. Honestly, this guy eats the truth for breakfast each and every day, then funnels it into eternally bruised, soul-rattling, deep-depression rock. Consider yourself fortunate the author of one of the year's most evocative albums might just have a post-office box here.

From there things get blurry. Not from alcohol, but from exhaustion. All's I can say, is that, for me (personally) Psychedelic Horseshit, owned the night. With new recruit, Laura (pictured above), filling in on bass duties, they seemed to physically say, "fuck a keyboard, play it yourself," throwing their cheap speak-n-spell into the decks for a new germ of crowd participation. I'm a tad bit partial, but this may have been the most engaging Horseshit show to date. Their energy (kinetic, poppy, yet wholly unrefined) can shine through any technical difficulty/drunkenness thrown in their path. They truly create their own fidelity. If this town has Zimmy, it's Matt Whitehurst. Keep in mind, Magic Flowers Droned, keep in mind. Fuck folk.

From there the heavy-hitters took center. Jerusalem and the Starbaskets caressed quotidian staples (i.e. White Stripes compounded blues riffs, Jeff Mangum's compounded inner-world-psych) and made them malleable for underground heads (like most in attendance). I could swear the duo played the same two-chord jammer for at least an hour, but I'm prolly quite wrong. Right? At this very moment they're doing the same thing for a crowd in flood-ravaged Oklahoma, and some kid is having his mind blown. Hmmm....Pavement and Elephant Six......and Lightning Bolt...for the micro-generation. Just don't blog it, keep it a secret. Please.


Live at Comfest

I could rant infinitely about the cons of Comfest (would love to start with that website, seemingly created at the turn of the century), but can only comment on the clueless entertainment committee and their quixotic quest to make everyone in town happy. Sure it's a hard feat, but do any of you have the pulse on what's good and what goes well together? I've posited the idea for curated stages time and time again, and honestly think the variety would be even greater while the quality would increase tenfold. Get a Ron House Stage, a Rick Cautella stage, a Paul Brown stage, a Hot 107.5 stage. Get WOSU involved, the Other Paper, fuck, even let the Alive writers pick some bands. Ok, I'm ranting. Get a clue. Seek out the talent instead of wading through applications from the X-Rated Cowboys.

Regardless, if you cherry-picked through the deluge of horrid cover bands and "new wave" hippies (Psychedelic Horseshit TM), you were able to find some worthy Columbus bands taken from their natural habitat and displayed for all-agers (who never get to see this sort of thing) and old-agers (who never go to see this sort of thing). Not sure if I would theoretically want my five-year old high on whatever fumes John Whitzky and El Jesus de Magico were huffing, but they would have learned a great deal about doo-woop and police brutality through the seamless theatricals of Hugs and Kisses "breakthrough" performance.

The legendary Cheater Slicks provided the most awkward of these "out of body" experiences. Imagine their surprise when they were asked to play the Bozo Stage (ugh, change that name pronto) at 2 PM in some blistering sun. My brother has always remarked Tom Shannon is the "greatest bummer in the world" (a compliment) and seeing him sweat through some instantly classic garage burners from their recently released Walk into the Sea, was proof enough. Temperatures warped any chance at cohesion, it was more like a prolonged seizure in slow-motion, convulsions in reverse, cough, cough, cough.

Mike Rep and the Quotas (pictured above), on the other hand, embraced the family cook-out atmosphere. It was 1984 or 1994 or even 2004 all over again. They really fry the reverb without any oil down in Harrisburg, to the point that it sounded like a plane was constantly in take-off. Here's a guy who just loves to get up on his tree-stump and share his love of music with anyone who will listen.

Then again, "trying is pathetic," or so said Will Foster's t-shirt. The Guinea Worms were the weekend's MVPs. I've always adored Foster's ability to flip a repetitious three-chord chant into apocalyptic party rock. Slowly but surely, the Worms get better and better each time I see them. A long progression, but I'm thinking the pay off (a new 7" on CDR, a greatest hits of old material?) is well worth the wait.

I'm forgetting some things. Night of Pleasure are the only punk band in town worth noting. The Lindsay made sure everyone now knows their name, 'bout time if you ask me. And of course this guy....

My Comfest could have began and ended with Dead Sea's early Friday set. Somebody sign this band already. Scheduling snafus aside, Comfest tends to win back my heart every year. I'm much too tired to bitch.


Live at Festival Latino

Perhaps the last of the fests which I can walk to, bellied up to Bicentennial Park to little fanfare. Unless you dig cumbia or Mexican forro, and large intimidating crowds after dark (I know plenty of guys who go apeshit for it), there was little cultural value in Festival Latino, at least in the two hours I was there. Again, it was daylight, an anonymous latin-jazz group was covering Santana, foods which have pretty much become a staple of the Columbus menu were being served (every modest taqueira in the city in one place), and trinkets from South of the border were sold to adoring (clueless) Caucasians. There was scant representation from Brazil (to my wife's dismay) and the eternal underdog of South America, Uruguay, or for that matter any other country that isn't Mexico. I did see wax worms whipped into a strawberry desert though.

Fortunately the Capoeira community stopped by to show us all how it's done.


Diggin' in the (60's-70's) - The Prix Label

What's it gonna' take to get a job with the amazing Numero Group? Month after month they keep discovering, and gloriously repackaging, crate finds that are essential puzzle pieces in the evolution of modern music. They seem to have all the bases covered, lost power pop (Yellow Pills), lost femme-folk (Wayfaring Strangers), lost world funk (various Cult Cargo comps.) and the label's biggest undertaking, the Eccentric Soul series.

Numero already unearthed the amazing Capsoul Label (their first release), so who would've thought there was another Columbus imprint that needed digging up? The Prix Label began on 921 E. Broad Street in the now defunct Harmonic Studios. Over a four year span (1969-73) they released only a small handful of singles. Pretty much all of them are compiled here, along with a batch of master tapes found only a year ago at a local estate auction (the owners apparently had no idea what a goldmine they possessed). Of course there is a bit of overlap with Capsoul, session players and band members were an incestuous bunch in the small but vibrant Columbus scene (Marion Ray, a star of Bill Moss' label, also recorded a single for Prix), but that's not to say Prix isn't an entirely unique entity.

For one, they had Eddie Ray, who began in a trio with the legendary Sam and Dave. On "You Got Me" he shines like a legitimate star over a slightly psych soul groove. The album also boasts two tracks from OFS Unlimited, who were precursors to the big-band, multi-cultural, funk sounds of the Ohio Players and Sun. Their "Mystic" is a barreling slice of instrumental jazz blasts and polyrhythm, something that wouldn't be out of place on a Tarrantino soundtrack or necromanced into a Go Team sequence.

Basically, whether you're a fan of lost soul or not, Numero has provided both a rich history few knew existed and another seamless compilation of hidden treasures that would otherwise remain buried.


Meta-Blogging - Read Population : Doug NOW

Father's Day is approaching, and there is no better way to achieve paternal remembrance better than digging into soft-rock. This is in no way designed to steal my brother's thunder, for the letter he received from Gerry Rafferty is essential reading. Yes, Mr. Rafferty was robbed, but so was Gino Vannelli's "Living Inside Myself" (pictured above), and a number of others that I learned about a few months ago over late nights with the Time-Life Classic Soft-Rock Collection infomercial (starring, btw, Air Supply). So, in tribute to Doug's masterwork here's an epilogue of forgotten soft-rock, a mini-mix (for a limited time only) that includes among other things, Benny Mardones' tribute to pedophilia, "Into the Night," which broke the top ten in both 1980 and 1989, and Boz Scagg's classic "Low Down," which should be a staple of sampling hip-hop entrepreneurs for years to come. Let me know what you think.

Beach Talk - The Tree of Snakes Finale?

Despite what you read here, I don't get out of the house much, so making my way down to Bernie's Distillery for Tree of Snake's last show (?) took some finagling, but it soon became commandment. I kinda needed the stench, the glory, the mayhem, of seeing one of the finest bands in Columbus' history say goodbye. Really, F-U-N, is a three-letter word most don't bandy around in normal conversation, at least the purest definition of the word. I can honestly say, that's pretty much all that Tree of Snakes provide. Like our own Ramones. Our own Black Lips, without the pissing in the mouth pretensions (and infinitely catchier, no less). Lessons learned? When life hands you lemons, don't make lemonade, "Grab Another Beer." Nothing comes in handier than a "Trusty Swordfish." And be thankful, no matter what your dead-end job may be, at least you're not an "Alligator Dentist."

I'm no videographer, but this captures the anarchy that prevailed. I've spent many an hour in the decrepit hellhole that is Bernie's, vowing never to return with each visit (the holes in between become longer every time). The whole show I was hoping the crowd would piece by piece destroy this institution once and for all. Joints were passed, bottles broken, kids hanging from the plumbing, naked Jason being naked; Why couldn't we end it right then and there? It would've have been glorious if Bernie's were no more after this night. I don't care who plays there in the future, I'm never going back.


Live at the Troy Strawberry Festival

Festival dois, and oh the drama that occurred at the thirty-first annual Troy Strawberry Festival. Diaper derbies (our ringer failed in his mission, fucking baby), Jimmy Buffet cover bands, hastily assembled arts and crafts, strawberry ribs, salsa, donuts, fried or un-fried, all consumed in under an hour. Luckily the three injured by a lightning bolt were eventually released from the hospital and the Eva Trostle controversy didn't rain on the parade (which I missed btw). More than anything, the fest is a chance to rekindle memories of my youth. I haven't been to one in years, but it's comforting to know that not much has changed, civic pride city-wide. The local color that shaped me is still intact, and the older I get, the more small-town America becomes appealing. Even the town characters that will one day appear in my memoirs are still trolling around; Efrim (the bike-riding, tin-can, collector), Crazy Sherry (the downtown obscenity screaming misanthrope), and of course Dottie (she looked exactly the same 20 years ago when I delivered her paper). Her and the Country Four show no signs of stopping their boot-scooting life of entertaining the village with down-home, fiddle-flavored, versions of "Okie from Muskogee," no matter how lyrics like "We don't get our trips on LSD" make the masses chuckle.


Of This Moment - Ex-Cocaine

By naming their album Esta Guerra (or This War, for English speakers), Missoula, Montana's Ex-Cocaine have crafted a timeless document of protest, even if there's no mention of battle or upheaval, of discontent or revolt. "Protest" because it speaks volumes with few words; the meditative escape of Bryan Ramirez's road-to-nowhere guitar ragas, the let-your-soul-bleed exorcism of Mike C's bongo beats, sound as far removed from the real world, the culture war, the war of rhetoric, that two like-minded psychic warriors could possibly sound in Montana. "Timeless" because Ex-Cocaine's buried ramblings won't truly take hold for another 20 years, even though on first listen you'd swear this was recorded 30 years ago by some Vietnam-defectives, live from a commune in Manitoba.

Warm and analog, these grooves just wouldn't sound proper on disc. Maybe cassette, but it's magnetic tape may need some baking in desert sun. Point being, Ex-Cocaine become most affecting as we reverse everything we know and think about modern music, the more anonymous and mysterious, the more confusing and mind-altering, the BETTER.

Honestly, I have no business tackling an album this deep without absorbing it for hours on end. A bender with the recent Siltbreeze offerings is in order. No one can describe, and reference, these latest releases better than Roland Woodbe himself. He'll start foaming at the mouth about Parameter, Steve Perigrine Took, and Roy Harper (try Stormcock), and you'll start another trip down another rabbit hole, picking through amazing records you never knew existed. Though my bro has a good take on the Pink Reason LP (equally perplexing and amazing as this one), there's a whole new world out there neither of us has tapped into. Think of these albums as dirty bombs, landmines placed over cisterns holding the truth underground. Freedom Rock.


Beach Talk - Moviola

My first encounter with Moviola was over 11 years ago, when I procured a copy of the Frantic EP (on 10" vinyl no less) from Trader Vic's on a tip from Tim Taylor. He gave me the obligatory record clerk logic "If you like Pavement, you'll love these guys from Columbus." That was a spark indeed, a band only 60 miles away that tried to sound like my high school crush.

Long gone are the days when Moviola cribbed from those lo-fi pioneers and dressed up their rustic pop in crusty fuzz and spindly guitars; 'cept for the nostalgic whiff that begins "Hand to Mouth." The quartet's seventh album, Dead Knowledge (on Catbird Records), is "matured" sure, but also the most adventurous, nuanced, and definitive album of their decade plus span, connecting the dots between Big Pink, the Grand Ole' Opry, Haight Asbury, Laurel Canyon, Muscle Shoals, and back to the Iuka Ravine.

By genre-hopping through the annals of Americana, unearthing mothballed memories, local folklore, and instruments from the attic (or the Elida High School Marching Band), Dead Knowledge might resonate as the group's last waltz (sorry, had to say it); the album they've always wanted to make. Recorded among the dollar stacks at the fabled Used Kid's Records, it's a confident and original reflection/mosaic of the heroes (Levon Helm, Neil Young, Bob Dylan) that were staring at their backs from musty, tattered covers. Rather than shunning off influences, Moviola embrace them here, feeding off the spirits that rose from the vinyl graveyard.

Moviola's longevity though, predicts Dead Knowledge is a new awakening, most evident in the rough-hewn, almost lysergic and definitely slow-burning, psychedelia that creeps into the album's first third. "Akron to Oakland" and "Rudy" recall American Beauty-era Grateful Dead, not the hirsute, brown acid, ten-minute jam, you're thinking of, but the adherence to craft and tradition a spry Jerry Garcia twisted into breezy, and equally trippy, little labyrinths. Elsewhere there are hints of bluegrass, "Humility," Tijuana brass, "Knotty Pine," and smoky, juke-joint blues, "Don't I Know," all along the way lined with weeping slide guitars, elegant strings, the occasional Beach Boys harmony, and some of the crunch from their roots for good measure, making for one varied and quite delightful travelogue.